Monday, 15 September 2014

The Death of the NHS (Scotland)

It’s interesting how the Unionist Parties, all of them, say that the fate of the NHS in Scotland is ‘devolved’, that therefore it becomes wholly the choice of the Scottish Parliament to privatise, or not to privatise, all the while claiming that NHS spending in England is increasing, so our ‘Barnett Equivalent’ is increasing.

Perhaps some of us are stupid enough to believe that. Westminster certainly thinks we are right now, at least judging by its actions.

It’s a bit like me giving you my car, which you absolutely need but don’t have the money to run. I’ll tell you it’ll be fine, just give me your vote and everything will work out, I’ll even pay for the maintenance, I’ll pay for the roads too, the infrastructure, I just won’t tell you it’s actually your money I’m using.

I’m not going to tell you today, when I need that vote, that tomorrow, after you’ve given it to me, I’ll stop giving you the money to buy petrol,

even though I know you don’t have the ability to buy it yourself. I won’t ever actually ask for the car back, why should I? Effectively, I’ll just stop you using it so I don’t have to maintain it any longer; that means I can ignore the infrastructure too.

My car in your hands, the NHS as we know it in Westminster’s hands, both a bit useless after that vote has been used, both of little value once the currency of negotiation has been spent. Without the ability to fund its NHS being firmly in Scotland’s hands, it’s not Scotland’s NHS. It never will be, like anything else, if we can’t fund it, like a car with no petrol, it’s pointless.

There’re two things we all need to be aware of when it comes to funding.

Firstly, Barnett’s on the way out. No Westminster party has pledged to maintain it; mind you, after the student loans debacle, amongst others, those promises wouldn’t be worth much even if they were made.

Secondly, NHS spending in England has increased, but a significant part of that increase now funds shareholder profits, not patient care. It’s still ‘government spending’ they argue in London Town, so Scotland benefits. They’re right as well, but only for today.

After you spend that vote on Thursday, if you spend it foolishly, if you vote ‘No’, here’s what will happen to your NHS, amongst other cherished institutions.

The main English parties have all said they are committed to Austerity. In actual fact, they’ve no choice; they spend so much on servicing a debt created by their economic mismanagement that it’s possibly their only true option.

UK Debt payments, just for interest, already equal four times the cost of Scotland’s NHS, by 2020 they’re going to be close to outstripping the cost of the entire UK’s health care system. That money has to be ‘found’ from somewhere, and they can’t indenture Scottish Oil or sell off the Royal Mail again.

The money will be found from the same place it’s always found, our taxes. In this case, stealth taxes once more. Just like the pensions raids, except now it’ll be an NHS raid.

The NHS in England is largely privately run these days; we just pay the bills and the profits on top. It’s ripe for shifting from the public books.

As that shifting process initiates, expect co-pays to be introduced in England, the think tanks and committees are already sounding them out, the responses they’re getting are positive.

The next stage will be a supplemental ‘tax’ or extra NI contribution, after that employer funded insurance will become de-rigueur. Each small step not that big of a deal alone, each small step so singularly significant moving that £100 billion plus from the government books to our own. Each small step contributing to City profits, even as the square mile contributes to the party coffers.

Expect, over the course of several years, the NHS to go from ‘universal entitlement’ to a ‘needs based benefit’.

As this all happens, even at just a twenty pound co-pay per visit, and three visits a year, that’s 3.6 billion shaved from the public budget in England. That’s about 1/3 of Scotland’s NHS costs, and that proportionate allocation won’t come north anymore, even in the unlikely event Barnett survives. That twenty pound co-pay is only half what Labour’s proposing mind you, Red-Ed is on record at £120 per person a year, with other’s in Westminster’s circles suggesting a tenner a month a head ‘access fee’ per user, so that’d be over seven billion, it’ll cover a bit more mismanagement then?

Typically it can be expected that any tests and procedures will also come with their individual co-pays, and all this will happen, because folk are only too willing to ‘pay a co-pay to save their NHS’, not realizing that even although the staff in front of them might be wearing NHS insignias, they actually aren’t NHS employees. The public doesn’t realize that what ‘they’re paying to save’ is already effectively dead, in England.

Once these conditions become the norm, its reasonable, based upon past trends, to expect those still using the NHS to become vilified as are the public health recipients in America by the US right wing media, they’ll be just another round of ‘benefits scroungers’.

When it’s all done, just remember, you cast that vote, and with an opportunity to truly change the way folk get treated in these Islands, throughout the entirety of these islands, if you cast it with poor judgement, you’ll have used up all your currency, and Westminster certainly isn’t going to call for free critical care or life support for a cause which it views as simply creating wasteful constitutional crises. If Westminster can stop it, there’ll be no more ‘wasteful’ constitutional amendments, otherwise known as devolution.

Remember too, on some future day, when you personally need that life support, from the birth of a child to major surgery, or even simply your elderly care in the years to come, as it is in England already, you’d better be prepared to pay.

There you have it, it’s quite simple really, David Cameron, Nick Clegg, Alistair Darling, Ed Miliband or the man who helped start the sell-off of the NHS, and raided your pensions, Gordon Brown. Would you buy a used car from them under any conditions, not just these conditions? How about a soon to be very underfunded NHS Perhaps the promise of a scandal free Westminster works for you?

If you wouldn’t do any of these, why would you buy a Union?

Thursday, 11 September 2014

September 9th 2014; the day the Union Died - Again.

Regardless of the outcome of the vote on the 18th, today marks the day the Union died - again! I say again because I wrote a similarly titled blog in 2011. Perhaps we exist in a strange Union led Zombie Apocalypse?

Today marks the day that the ‘No Campaign’ went into terminal meltdown, that the ‘offers were put on the table’ that the lie that these things take years was exposed.

Today marks the day that David Cameron’s leadership was called into question, in the last twenty four hours, we’ve seen those calls reverberate, because of what; because of two polls? Surely, two polls don’t create a reason, in England anyway, for presenting a PM with a P45.

No, the reason for the meltdown is the drop in Sterling and its impact. That first poll showed the City of London and its traders that they might just ‘lose Scotland’, so they did what good business folk might be expected to do, they started to price it in to Sterling’s value.

There’re a few interesting things behind these adjustments, things the regular press isn’t saying.

Firstly, if a currency union hadn’t been rejected by their lackey’s in Downing Street, it’s very unlikely they’d be concerned at all, not much anyway. If the UK didn’t have lunatics minding the asylum, none of us would be in this position. For several days the currency has been dropping. I’m getting hard hit by that currency drop, can I just say I’m conflicted, between ‘Damn’ and ‘Woo-hoo!’, it’s a hit I’ll happily take.

Secondly, Scotland represents just about 10% of the UK economy, so if we were a sponge, a soak, a drain, then dumping the deadwood could only see Sterling strengthen, stabilize or ‘firm up’ its position. The loss of size would most probably be more than offset by the reduction in liability. Effectively the drop in value by the markets is saying we’re a major contributor to Sterling and the UK’s credit-worthiness.

Put simply, if you’re the bank, and the junkie sponging kid wants to leave home, you might consider a loan to mum and dad. If the major breadwinner leaves and the junkie kid stays to keep draining resources, when the remaining parent who’s shown bad money skills comes along for another loan, your reaction might be a bit different.

It’s the prospect of that reaction, of the near calamity that the remaining UK would be forced into that’s causing the current panic in London Town. Let’s face it, if a kid’s a drain and a problem, we’re happy to see it leave, make its own way and grow up a bit in the big bad world. If that kid’s contributing and useful, there’s just a possibility we might not be so eager. Now just imagine if we’d borrowed on the strength of that kid’s wages and couldn’t pay it back without them?

Wouldn’t we fight to keep them under our roof?

Wouldn’t we argue against the risks and consequences of leaving?

Wouldn’t we hide our true predicament from them?

If we were unscrupulous, we absolutely would. There’s one thing we’d have to know though, we’d have to be aware that one day, some day, we’d be ‘found out’.

Today, the Union has been ‘found out’. Like the child who’s now growing into the knowledge, that information, that genie, it can’t be stuffed back into its bottle. It’s just not that compliant.

The referendum might fail, although I doubt it. Despite the outcome, today marks the day the Union died. Those powers being promised, the soul searching in Westminster, the hand wringing and finger pointing by our ultra biased media, in the event of a ‘NO’, they’ll fade away. It’s likely that those promised extra powers will too. There’ll be ‘unforeseen difficulties’ and they’ll never be implemented in any sort of functional way.

The thing is, the Scots won’t forget, Scotland is now a nation re-energized, it has recovered much of its political will. If ‘Yes’ isn’t successful on this occasion, there will be another, because the people won’t forget. However, next time don’t expect Westminster to agree, they’ve just had too big a fright.

‘Next time’ it’ll possibly even be a Unilateral Declaration of Independence that’s voted through by the people, after a party wins power on that platform, and it possibly won’t be far away. You see, you can lie, cheat and steal from the kids, but once their trust is finally betrayed, it’s over.

‘Next time’, be it referendum or declaration, can be prevented, but only with wholesale power transference to Edinburgh, power transference so meaningful and so utterly comprehensive that Scots will come to believe that we’re truly ‘better together’. The issue is that if any Cabinet attempted this, the riots in England would be unimaginable. Politically, such a transference of power is next door to impossible.

History will show September 9th 2014 to have been important, not only will it have been an excellent birthday present for my mother’s 80th, the day Flodden’s loss began the effective path to Union, and the day Mary of Scots was crowned, it will also mark the effective end of Scotland as a proclaimed dependency, and I say ‘proclaimed’ as it’s been such in the popular UK media for centuries. I say ‘proclaimed’ because the markets are right now, right here, telling a very different story. They’re telling a story similar to that of immensely prosperous Luxembourg, tiny, incredibly wealthy, it also got its independence today, 147 years ago.

One other thing, today was also the day in 1914 that the Irish met at the Gaelic conference and initiated the process that would become the revolt to free a nation. Ours is simpler, it doesn't involve guns, but just like theirs, it’s thrown Westminster into a state of confusion and panic.

A resumption of statehood for Scotland is drawing close; only the final date really has a question over it, that and how simple the process will be.

So, in a few days, there’s a choice. Do it now and do it simply, or suffer more and do it later.

For Scotland, it’s a bit like the difference between flossing today and a root canal tomorrow.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Son I just Wrote This, by Stanley Odd - this video caught me by surprise this morning. I want everyone to hear it.

Son I just Wrote This by Stanley Odd

Son I Voted Yes'

Son I just wrote this
I thought you might like to know
That I chose to vote Yes
‘Cause a Yes vote provided hope
What the future’s holdin’
No-one can rightly know
Was tired of the same old script
And what’s next only time will show

I knew you'd ask at some stage
I look forward to us talking about it one day
So here’s the story of a hopeful guess
Cause you're part of the reason that I voted yes
When I was your age, we had some discontent winters
Like in the fairy tales there was a Witch of Westminster
With the power and the contrast of a comic book villain
She's passed away now but we didn’t say good riddance
‘Cause by the time she passed she was a feeble old lady
Who forgot what she was doing when she was going places
You should always treat people how you’d like to be treated
‘Cause the hurt and anger she left is deep seated
In school they stopped our free milk
It could be said in a wider context they stopped our free will
You can’t always separate feelings from cold facts
From the school bus I read graffiti saying ‘No Poll Tax’
See in 1979 people voted to control their own reality
But it didn’t happen on a technicality
Then in 1997 they said it wouldn’t work
But they supposed letting us try couldn’t hurt
Now in 2014 they asked the question
‘Do you want to be independent?’
I remember thinking, if we didn’t answer Yes
You could be 18 before they’d ask us again

Son I just wrote this

This isn’t about the colour of skin
Or where you were born, or who you call kin
It’s about pure and simple geography
And caring for everyone responsibly
It’s about people facing poverty with immunity
And building and supporting our communities
Too many people want off the path we’re following
It’s time to change how we ‘do’ politics
Responsibility and independence
Leading by example of the messages we’re sendin’
Character traits we hope for our kids one day
So why wouldn’t we want it for our country?
See the older you get the less you see things in black and white
And I’m just trying to do what I think is right
Just simply voting by Yes, the problem isn’t solved
But you can’t change the world taking no risks at all
Spin Doctors twisted strands of stories to control the plots
Like Rumpelstiltskin spinning gold from straw
Weaving threads like Charlotte’s spider web
And the trolls under the bridge became Cybermen
In a time of recession, food banks and destitution
Worldwide turmoil with very little resolution
Violence and terror as press wizards cast their best illusions
We were part of a peaceful revolution

Son I just wrote this

Some said we had our heads controlled by our hearts
But you make decisions with both by and large
As for those felt their hearts were controlled by their heads
They told the story of the goose that laid the golden egg
Meaning that sticking as we are was the safest bet
Which is basically succumbing to playground threats
And to me that just wasn’t making sense
‘Cause there’s the possibility for real change instead
They say yir home’s where yir heart is
From Oor Wullie’s shed to Doctor Who’s Tardis
But it’s also true that yir hearts where yir home is
And it won’t be that long ‘til you’re grown with yir own kids
Of course I had reservations, who didn’t?
Despite the white paper, Scotland’s future isn’t written
It’s wrong that a politician can only be the shepherd or the wolf
Cause that way they either want you for your flesh or for your wool
The biggest triumph of the 21st century state
Was to convince us that having a dream is a cliché
1% of the world has 90% of the wealth
And this system says to step on folks while helping yirself
I hope you’re hearing these thoughts with amazement
And inequity is consigned to history pages
I don’t want to see another lost generation
Rioting, frustrated and cross with their parents

Son I just wrote this
I thought you might like to know
That I chose to vote Yes
‘Cause a Yes vote provided hope
What the future’s holdin’
No-one can rightly know
Was tired of the same old script
And what’s next only time will show

You can find Stanley here:

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Listen on Spotify

Monday, 1 September 2014

No Contingency Plan For a "Yes" Vote.

We heard it again last week, it’s been voiced before by MPs, top civil servants and several Lords a Leaping. Interestingly it would seem that only those with a vested interest in the British State appear to care about this. Joe and Jemima public haven’t really had it at the forefront of their concerns, at least in so far as media reports have indicated.

Well, we’re coming down to the wire, only eighteen days to go until the vote, soon it’ll be less than ten, and I’m betting we won’t hear more, much more anyway, about the lack of contingency in case of a yes vote.

You see, it’s a fairly safe bet that Westminster does have a contingency plan; only, they can’t afford for anyone to know about it. The reason that they do not have a contingency plan for such a momentous event, as they’ve acknowledged this referendum as being, can only fall into one of three categories.

Firstly, everyone in London Town is an ostrich, every last one who counts as a professed ‘leader of the British Isles’ is a certifiable idiot with their head stuck firmly in the few remaining sandy bits of the Thames embankments. While it would be comforting in a way to go with this scenario, which gets its credence due to the distinct ignorance and highly dubious decision making that’s come from that region in times past, it’s not really the most probable of options, now is it?

Secondly, it could simply be that we’ve been getting lied to. That the ‘difficulty’ experienced by both sides in disentangling the Union will actually cause minimal upheaval in everyone’s lives, with the possible exclusion of perhaps a few civil servants. Based upon the garbage and lies fed to all and sundry during this debate, by the representatives of the ‘mother of parliaments’, this scenario seems much more likely. It’s sad, but should be considered to be streets ahead of option 1 in the probability stakes. It’s sad because it says we elected a bunch of liars, but they were the best of the group offered to us. Now we’re being asked to perpetuate their employment.

The third option is perhaps the most troublesome. You see, option three means never needing a contingency plan, simply because you know it’ll be pointless, simply wasted energy to divert resources to something which you’re certain you can prevent from happening. I’d give it a weight approaching that of, or perhaps even surpassing, option two.

Option three involves many things. However, many things are what Westminster has shown itself capable of. It used the security branches in 1979 to work against Scotland’s interests, as well as that belated 40% rule and counting the dead. There’ve been other incidents too, like the lawyer Willie McRae, who allegedly committed suicide by shooting himself in the head (twice) then throwing the gun away, this after allegedly uncovering something akin to the McCrone report. There’s the last referendum where we voted for a parliament with tax raising powers only to have those powers so diluted by Westminster as to be effectively useless. Even the latest tranche, scheduled for next year can’t be used without hurting ourselves.

Another aspect that just doesn’t ‘ring’ is the disparity in polling data. That alone should have London in a lather, yet while the ‘unofficial polls’ with often massive sample sizes are consistently showing a landslide for ‘Yes’, the ‘official’ polls continue with ‘No’ by a nose.

Ultimately, if we treat option one with the derision deserved, it is certain that there actually is at least one contingency plan out there; one which will allow for London’s elite to remain in control of Scotland or to cut us loose with absolutely minimal impact. It’s an ‘either/or’, I personally can’t see the possibility for any middle ground here.

Up until recently I’d simply thought that with our separate NHS, legal system, educational system etc that we were just being lied to - again. Perhaps an uncomplicated "Velvet Divorce" is to much to hope for.

Now however I have a very real concern. One that has been generated by recent media releases and events, from Jim Murphy’s ‘egging’ (and let’s face it, the only difference this time is that it wasn’t self applied, although we’ve still to uncover just who directed the egg in his direction. What we do know however is it seems to be primarily the nationalist community with an interest in uncovering the perpetrator). Now, add that to recent inflammatory articles appearing in the media indicating "polling carnage" on the 18th, articles which even went so far as to prompt a response from the Police Scotland on September 1st, and we've got a quickly building scenario.

In its best case, a few ‘nutters’ heckling at a handful of polling stations would be unfortunate but ultimately laughable. On the other hand, in a systemic worst-case scenario anything is possible - from missing ballot boxes to calling the fairness of the vote itself into question. Yes, it’d need to be coordinated on a relatively massive scale, but when you largely ‘own’ the output of the media in such circumstances, can anything really be discounted?

Personally, I hope a lot of things can and will be discounted, although I suspect we’ll be approaching October before they can safely be binned.

There’s only one thing that’s certain, London has used every resource and contingency we know of to ensure a ‘No’. On the other hand, if it’s a ‘Yes’ as those on the ground have solid reason to believe, one can only ask what the contingencies are – and why don’t we know about them?

When there is a ‘Yes’ we can be certain those plans will be dusted off; when there is a ‘Yes’ we can only hope that good sense and democracy prevail.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Guest Writer: TV, Radio and Media Personality Jay Crawford With His Perspective On The Independence Debate.

My name is Jay Crawford, I worked in radio, TV and press for almost 40 years in Scotland. With less than three weeks to go in this Independence for Scotland debate I've seen both sides of the argument forcefully put. However I've been disappointed by the lack of balance in the media. 

Jay Crawford Says YES.
For me it has been an easy decision to vote YES. I was brought up to remember that my ancestors fought for Scotland going back to the original wars of independence. William Wallaces' mother was a Crawford and my family have been patriots for almost 1000 years.

However, during this debate I have been made to feel like a stranger in my own country. I have been ridiculed for my belief that Scotland is a nation not just a region of the United Kingdom. I have been told that being a patriot is wrong and nationalism is akin to Germany in the 1930's.

I feel as if I am considered to be somehow deluded or living in some kind of romantic Walter Scott novel. I put up a Saltire flag on my house recently and have been laughed at and made to defend it to neighbours who at the same time are trying to sell me Better Together ties to wear. Imagine being derided for putting up your countries flag in your own country! I live in East Lothian about five miles from Athelstaneford where the flag of Scotland was invented. Did you know that the Saltire is the oldest national flag in the world from 830 AD?

Both my parents fought in WW2 my grandfathers fought in WW1 and after each of those conflicts they were told that Scotland would get devolved powers. I myself campaigned for devolution in 1979 and again we were conned by Westminster.

We know now that the Labour Government in the 1970's lied to us about North Sea oil. For all the money that has been taken from that we've seen little investment in our own country, yet we're labelled "subsidy junkies" by many south of the border. Yet a litre of petrol is about £1.30 and a litre of Highland Spring water is £2.70!

Alistair Darling is a lawyer. He argues for the UK. However all Scottish lawyers practice Scots Law, this is kept separate from English Law. If we're Better Together why does Mr Darling not suggest scrapping Scots Law for UK law? Ask any lawyer in Scotland who is voting NO if they'd be prepared to give up Scots Law and allow English Lawyers to practice in Scotland and watch them choke.

This referendum is about taking power back to the people of Scotland.

This referendum is about Scotland being governed by people in Scotland and not the English elite with the old school ties and Oxford and Cambridge, Old Etonians et al. Scottish education used to be first class but we've fallen behind the rest of the world unless you can afford £15,000 a year for each of your children.

If we vote YES we will have the chance to re-shape our political landscape in Scotland.

We can make a fair and just society.

We can send a message to the elite political class of Britain that says, your power and position in our society is only possible by the good will of the people and take that for granted if you dare.

You want to help the UK? As they say on an aeroplane put your own oxygen mask on first then help others. We can help our English cousins best by example, free ourselves and perhaps they'll free themselves from a corrupt and unjust Britain ruled by fear and prejudice.

After the 18th of September we'll all have to look in the mirror and face the reality of what we've done or what we've lost.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Guest writer Steven McBrien Looks At Better Together's Patronising Video.

Guest writer Steven McBrien tackles the deeply offensive and patronising piece of publicity from Better Together/ Jist Say Eh?/ No Borders ... (an update on their current title would be helpful....)
              --------------------------------------------------

Hear ye, hear ye! I want each and every woman on my (Facebook) friends list, regardless of nationality, to watch this. I want you all to see exactly what kind of campaign "No Thanks" actually is. Because when Better Together finally hit rock bottom, what do they do? That's right: they proceed to unveil their shovels and start digging, and this advert literally has to be seen in order to be believed. I was strongly reminded of Harry Enfield's brilliant "WOMEN: KNOW YOUR LIMITS" piss-take while watching this.


Not just you Steven!

Apparently, your average Scotswoman thinks of the referendum as some sort of distraction which shouldn't be discussed, doesn't know Alex Salmond's name and refers to the First Minister of her country as "that bloke off the telly", believes that the opinions of children don't count because they are children, imagines that the YES Campaign have somehow promised that "oil will pay for it all," (and thereby refuses to acknowledge to herself that the YES Campaign have stated time and again that a trillion quid oil bonanza is only part of the package, along with renewables, some of the finest exports in Europe, tourism, no upkeep for a nuclear arsenal, over 65% of UK coastline being in Scotland, not having to finance illegal wars and ever-increasing global investment thanks to us actually having a financial capital that's not hundreds of miles away from us in another country), thinks that because there is a degree of uncertainty attached to doing something, that means you shouldn't do it at all (Why move out of home/get married/have kids in the first place then? And hang on while I ask the world's leading businesswomen if they let uncertainty hold them back at the beginning), thinks that "loving" your country means not giving it the chance to do what the rest of the world is doing, doesn't have "enough hours in the day" to go and discover facts and think for herself, gives credit only to things she sees on TV or hears by chance, believes that pensions and hospitals would be somehow safer in a Tory or UKIP-led United Kingdom than they would under an iScotland, believes that something an entire nation has spent two years discussing "hasn't been thought through" and seriously states to herself that there will be no risk posed to Scotland at all if it votes NO, ignoring the fact that we as a nation will be effectively crucified if we do refuse self-determination. The whole woeful thing basically amounts to: "Never mind any of this referendum nonsense, women of Scotland: just eat your cereal and get the dinner on." Pathetic.

Needless to say, like every other Better Together advert I've ever seen online, comments and ratings are thoroughly disabled. Because they are every bit as interested in hearing the thoughts of real women as they are in democracy.

Jesus Christ, these people stink.

Better Together Patronise The Women Of Scotland


Steven McBrien


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Thanks for that Steven.

Frightening, isn't it? But then if it's true that BT have used the advertising firm owned by Saatchi - is the derogatory attitude towards women so unexpected?


However, the internet is a wonderful place - if only the poor lassie in the advert could discover that between washing cereal plates and putting down her wean's intelligence:



As does Alistair Davidson.

And Finally: Jackie Crawford's take.

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Steven McBrien's Tumblr Blog can be found here.

Saturday, 23 August 2014

The shame of NO

I was asked recently what my reaction would be to a ‘No Vote’.

The reality, no matter how I look at the various responses, there’s only one that will fit.

I’d be ashamed of my country; I’d be ashamed of my people.

The reasoning is simple; with a majority voice my country will proclaim to the world at large that it is No nation of ‘proud Scots’, but has been bred into becoming a nation of wee, cowering, timourous beasties.

It will proclaim from every polling station in our land that it has No self belief, No self worth and No aspiration.

I’ll feel that way, and I’ll believe it, because of one thing above all; it’s what the ‘NO Campaign’ have told us. It doesn’t matter what you call them, those paid and indentured lackeys who are trying to spread fear amongst us. ‘Better Together’, ‘Vote No Borders’, ‘No Thanks’, they’re all the same, backed by London or City interests, funded by Tory donors and peers.

I’ll feel ashamed because the ‘NO’ campaign has continually demanded certainties from those who’d choose a better direction - and let’s face it any direction we choose is better than one forced or foisted upon us from afar. I’ll feel ashamed because these people have the power, right now, to provide the certainties they demand of the positive message.

I’m already ashamed, not of my nation, not of the Scots, but of what David Cameron, chief of the nay-sayers has done with what he declares is ‘his country’. He alone, as de-facto leader of the negative message, has the power to inject certainty. He alone can direct that the questions be asked that remove the doubt. He alone can demand that when the time comes that England and an independent Scotland assume their rightful places within the EU, within NATO and continue being party to any other treaties to which we’re currently obligated; unless, of course, we choose differently.

He and he alone is responsible for driving much of the lack of information, the lack of credibility, the direction of the media reporting that has been so convoluted and biased as to leave many Scots bewildered.

Yet, he is not entirely responsible for their bewilderment. For in the end, although they might be confused by his threats, innuendoes, predictions of cataclysm and doom, they and they alone will bear the responsibility for the true disaster that will transpire afterwards – because they did not take on the responsibility of discovering the truth behind all the misinformation. The Truth is out there. They should have taken the time and sought out the answers for themselves.

They will be responsible, because on September 18th, for the first time in their lives, each and every Scot will wake up with the responsibility for our own future, and it will be up to each and every Scot to decide what to do with that responsibility.

For those that vote NO because of vested interest; for the Lords, Ladies, CBE’s and OBE’s, or those that need the British State for a meal-ticket, those chiefest amongst the current nay-sayers, in a way I can respect their NO vote, they are after all working diligently to preserve their entitlements. For that which the British State can bestow can also remove. They’re nothing other than the paid lackey’s of a London establishment that daren’t even engage publically in our debate, a debate which wouldn’t even exist without London controlled media. They may not acknowledge their position as such, they may be genuinely confused, but I doubt it.

I will be ashamed because, should there be a NO vote, so many of my country’s people will have bought into such a negative message, such a song devoid of hope and aspiration that I can only imagine they’ve forgotten what it means to be Scots. In a dependent Scotland a dirge will be top of the pops.

I’ll still defend your right to your views, to that NO vote, should you choose to cast it, should you select to abdicate your sovereignty on the day it is given to you, even as I’m ashamed you saw the need to mark that particular box.

You see, the reason for my feelings won’t be immediately apparent on the 18th, but on the days, weeks, months and years afterwards.

It’s during that subsequent time that Scotland will display the results of having its soft proud underbelly eviscerated. Those who have driven this movement, this retention of new-found rights that will come on the 18th, if they watch them evaporate that night, you should believe that the hopes and aspirations they carry for their country will pour from their souls as well.

When you do that to the collective spirit of a nation, there’s only one result, and it’s not a good one.

I can guarantee, that there’ll be a dearth of folks to proudly proclaim they voted NO in the years to come, they’ll not sit with their children and grandchildren, they’ll not tell them how hard they worked to secure their futures, how the cross on the box was only the last small step in centuries long struggle, a struggle that for many of them lasted an entire lifetime.

Actually, as I think on it, you don’t need me to be ashamed for you, because the next time an English government, for with over 80% of the seats in the Commons, that’s what it is, an English government; the next time one of them foists something on you or yours that you despise, I know you’ll look back ruefully, and you’ll wish you’d acted differently on that day. I know that then though, you’ll not proclaim what you did on that day; that you were either a wee timourous, cowering beastie, or bribed.

Ultimately, the 18th is a day for us to decide our future and that afterwards we will be in the enviable position of being able to make our own choices ad infinitum. That ability to access your representatives, to have your rights protected, to decide a constitution, to choose who to treat and ally with, it’s called freedom. To have it filtered by another parliament in another country where you have naught but the tiniest of voices, it’s called servitude.

Servitude; willing servitude is a cause for shame.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Steven McBrien's Withering Wit Strikes Again With An Open Letter to Better Together

Dear Alistair Darling, Jim Murphy, Anas Sarwar, Johann Lamont, Tom Harris, Blair McDougall, Danny Alexander, Ruth Davidson, Willie Rennie and other esteemed champions of the Better Together Campaign,

I am writing to thank you all, each and every one of you, for being the truest patriots and martyrs for your country - for any country - in history. Your true agenda, that of aiding and assisting the cause of Scottish independence at every turn, seems to have been lost on many people throughout Scotland, yet I would be loathe to let your efforts, no matter how secret, go unrecognised. History will soon be telling us that if it hadn't been for your colossal contribution, our nation would never have won its independence, and it's only right that you should all be recognised and celebrated for that.

I used to be of the opinion that Alex Salmond was the savviest politician in the British Isles at the present time. I must say, now that I have realised what you were trying to do all along, I think I've totally overrated him. Let's face it, if I had the Better Together campaign telling everyone I couldn't write for toffee, I'd probably end up topping the New York Times' Best Seller list. With enemies like you, who needs friends?

Except that you are not enemies; it is clear to me now that you were friends all along, friends more loyal, steadfast and true than any sane person could ever hope to dream for. It is also apparent even to my jaded eyes that you are all among the most clever, intelligent and insidious supporters of any independence campaign in history. Had Fidel Castro had you onside, he wouldn't have had to spend years clad in fatigues and camping out in the Sierra Maestra. Had Gandhi, Nehru and Jinnah only been able to avail themselves of your services, there would have been no riots and no violence in the Indian subcontinent at all. If you had only been around a hundred years ago, I'm perfectly convinced that the island of Ireland would be united and at peace at this very moment. Such has been your massive and irrefutable bestowal upon the YES campaign.

What vexes me however is just how many of our fellow Scots don't seem to get the joke, and how many high heid yins in Westminster are still labouring under the delusion that you were actually working for, and not against, them all along. How could anyone believe that people with credentials such as yours could have been so monolithically stupid/corrupt as to genuinely believe the ludicrous, manufactured and hilarity-inspiring grot that you have been spouting for years? Don't they get the irony? Can't they see that you are political comedy geniuses?

You took a lackluster pro-indy campaign in 2012, and you collectively galvanised and transformed it into one of the most unified and exciting grassroots movements in modern history. With your astonishing and profound grasp of the Scottish psyche, you realised instinctively that if there was one thing that would absolutely guarantee that the Scottish populace would vote YES to self-determination, it would be spending two years screeching at them that they "couldn't do it", that they would "be worse-off" and that they were "separatists" who would "pay a heavy price". You realised, like the political wunderkinds you are, that by constantly quoting laughable sources such as the Tory-founded and London-based Institute for Fiscal Studies, anyone with an IQ greater than that of a half-eaten Tunnock's teacake would know that you were lying about the figures you were quoting, and would, in turn, think that you were treating them with unbridled contempt, instead of cunningly egging them on to a YES vote. You have demonstrated, at every turn, a clinical understanding of the Scottish character, and what's more, you have taken advantage of this knowledge, like the chess grandmasters you are, to attain what I now realise was your ultimate goal all along: Scottish independence.

You understood immediately that by stating that the Scottish people weren't "genetically programmed" to make political decisions, that by defending the moral and financial outrage of nuclear weapons being essentially dumped up here, even as libraries and hospitals were closed down, that by making comically sour predictions about one of the biggest oil bonanzas on Earth (even while the Financial Times and Britain's leading economists and investors publicly contradicted you), that by ignoring Scotland's geographically perfect strategic position to become a renewable energy powerhouse, that by blatantly ignoring an exports industry that is set to become among the strongest in Europe, that by congratulating citizens of other small countries which fought for and won their freedom on their respective independence days while brazenly denying the right to self-determination of everyone in Scotland, that by defending a political system that seems to have been almost specifically designed to be one of the most venal, corrupt and unfair systems of government in modern Europe, that by allying yourselves with the most maligned and detested political party in Britain, that by telling the people of Scotland, against reason and common sense,
The Pound - and who uses it
that they somehow wouldn't be able to use the pound that Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey are even at this moment using (and that Scots for over three centuries have fought and worked and died for, and which they have contributed to for generations), even while Forbes Magazine itself said that you were talking rubbish, that by screaming that the Tories were systematically destroying - as they are - the English NHS, even while you were openly uniting with the Tories to "save the Union" and jeopardise the Scottish NHS, that by claiming that independent Scots would have to pay for a biased broadcasting corporation that they are already paying for anyway, that by averring that Scots couldn't do what many countries half their size have been doing for centuries, that by ignoring how Iceland dealt with financial terrorists and corporate criminals to instead warn us that we "couldn't bail ourselves out" in the event of another economic collapse (like the one Mr Darling presided over and did nothing about in the first place, but which an iScotland wouldn't tolerate and wouldn't even pay for in the first place), that by defending "democracy" by denying and then attacking the right of a people to democratically decide what happens to their own country, that by employing scare tactics and lies at every opportunity, to the point where your own members actually dubbed themselves "Project Fear", that by taking a quick snap of Jim Murphy standing on a soapbox while surrounded by hundreds of nonplussed tourists at the Edinburgh Fringe and then attempting to claim that you had a "brilliant turnout" for a No rally, and other post-modernist gems too legion to mention here, you would secure our independence for us, regardless of the YES Campaign, irrespective of Salmond and the SNP.

You alone bore the cross. You alone got the joke. I just don't know how anyone can read all of the above and not understand that you have been covertly on our side all this time. Surely they can't believe that you were actually being serious? I mean, come on, that wouldn't even bear thinking about; there are Farrelly Brothers' plots I go could along with before that. Why can't they see that the whole thing was a joke, a wry, Scottish joke, that was consummately designed to totally alienate us and so procure us our independence?

I almost want to weep at the sacrifices you have made for your country. You have sacrificed your respect, your reputations, whatever political clout you may once have had, your good names, your public standing and, indeed, everything but your well-earned salaries and second homes to get your country independent, and you've had No Thanks for it at all. You have shown the world that Scots don't just speak irony, they are prepared to live it, if it gets them what they want. You've shown us as a nation that we are "Better" and "Stronger" when we don't get the joke. You truly represent the best of both worlds: you are postmodernist comedy geniuses and selfless political martyrs. I would salute you all, if only I wasn't fully engaged in blowing my nose.

Yours Betterandstrongerly,

McB


Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Mr. C. Thanks For The Prompt Reply.

Honestly, I didn’t expect an answer My Questions quite so quickly, but then, the truth will out, because the truth does have a nasty habit of bobbing to the surface.

My-oh-my, it was a surprise though, to see it answered so honestly.

I asked David Cameron a question the other day; I’ve now had my reply, even if indirectly delivered through the UK media. At least in a "here’s your answer, now you go figure it all out you silly wee wummin" type of format, at any rate that’s how it was presented in the press today.

Actually, I'm not so crazy as to think it was just my reply and it was only a partial answer, but he might have just as well shouted it from the rooftops. It was the response to the NHS question and it states very, very clearly, we’re about to lose our own Scottish NHS.

I'm talking about the English backlash in all the papers today, the one where there is a demand that we get our spending cut to a UK average, or even less, if that’s what Westminster decides. They’re saying £1,400 a head. This equals around £7.2 billion – allow me to write that out in full; £7,200,000,000. That’s cuts like you've never seen before. Oh, they’ll be staged allowing time for progressive charging to creep in, health insurance to slowly become a requirement and acceptable. You know how Westminster works; the death of a thousand little cuts. Except this time there’ll be over 7 billion little cuts.

Now, let’s remember where broadcasting is reserved to, especially after seeing ‘Better Together’ ads on the BBC (as a child, I really did believe it was supposed to be neutral and impartial, a great institution. That’s just another of those young beliefs shattered I suppose, consigned to the same afterlife as the tooth fairy). Anyway, remembering that broadcasting is reserved, we know who they’re supporting, and it isn’t ordinary folks.

This ‘newly revealed’ backlash is not particularly new; in fact it’s actually been (sometimes not so) subtly covered for a number of years now. England has forever been awash with images of the drunken Scot, belligerently whingeing for a handout. Meanwhile, they studiously ignore the fact that we put in far more than they do, more than we ever see back, which absolutely can’t be said for England.

Accordingly, akin to the Indy Ref, when you give folks half-truths, half the information and facts such as ‘they get more than you, is that fair’, of course the answer’s ‘NO’. It’s the same logic they’re using to try to get a ‘NO’ vote in Scotland, and sadly, some of my fellow Scots, reliant on a diet of Westminster propaganda, will vote that way, simply because like the English population demanding our budget be cut, they simply don’t know any better. Wonderfully subtle state propaganda, isn’t it?

Now, had these same English residents been given the full facts instead of Westminster propaganda i.e., the Scots actually pay far more into the system - much more. In reality, 2010/2011 tax receipts were £10,700 per person for Scotland, as opposed to an average of £9000 per person for the rUK. Had these same residents been made aware that these excess taxes are possibly paying a percentage towards England’s PFI contracts on hospitals and schools; wouldn't they be more amenable to the idea that it is only fair the Scots receive slightly more back than residents in rUK? Would there still be this hue and cry in England?

I suspect that not. The vast majority of English are reasonable folks, they’d be reasonably happy with that arrangement, if not downright tickled pink.

Sadly though, supplying the information at this juncture won’t work, because south of the border Scotland has been demonised in both popular culture and the popular press for far too long. The BBC is largely responsible, and the BBC is a reserved arm of Westminster. I can say that, because it’s been done at all levels, from the portrayal of Scots in newsprint to even one of my favourite old Beeb comedy shows like Black Adder; cringe worthy depictions of red-headed, tartan-bobble-hatted, be-kilted savage Scot, my people. Perhaps that’s why many suffer a Scottish cringe?

Anyway, it’s largely irrelevant now. What is relevant though is that the poll on attitudes showed upwards of a three to one majority of ‘realigning’ spending, as in cutting our budget. In reality, people who have done their research know this poll is based on half truths, innuendoes and lies. However, just like the ‘NO Voter’ in the upcoming referendum, it is what they truly believe; because they base their opinion upon the information they've been spoon fed. That makes it very real.

Furthermore, this also makes it very real to the politicians in Westminster; real and actionable. They do, after all, look upon us as ‘one country’, not four countries voluntarily making up one state. So when three of four who voice an opinion tell them to act, and it’s an action they want to take anyway, they pretty much now have to be seen to be doing something. We can bet the English press will report one set of promises, their Scottish editions will report it another way.

That means if the hoodwink holds enough of our people until September 19th, then within a very short time we can expect to see an ‘adjustment in our allowance’ of some 7 billion quid. It’s not going to be an upwards adjustment either.

If the hoodwink holds, that seven billion, and by government figures would mean one of two things if applied to us; it’d mean shutting down every hospital in Scotland, with every GP Practice or making you pay for them by forcing you to buy private insurance. It means that, or finding the money some-place else.

The problem being, there isn’t any some-place else. Since any extra Holyrood extracts from us will be deducted from what Westminster gives them.

I have recently spoken with a nurse taking a position in England. I asked if her contract was with the NHS, a health board, or a private company. You’d think that’s an easy enough question. Not in England, not today. She’ll be in an NHS uniform though, for now.

So, Mr. Cameron thanks for my answer, although I know you didn’t just decide to give it to me directly. I know your methods, and how you use the media. First they ‘uncover a story’ and engender disbelief, that disbelief turns to outrage, and as with our poor, our disabled, our sick and our immigrants, outrage begets anger and demonisation, which in turn gives support for the actions you intended anyway. It’s a bit like Putin invading his neighbours.

You want me to keep a system of healthcare, the future of which is to be modelled on the US, where a simple Caesarian Section can cost up to $25,000. You’re seriously asking me to vote for that?

Well, having had your response Mr. Cameron, I’ll give you mine. I’ll just say ‘No Thanks’ on the 18th, but I’ll say ‘YES’ to trusting my neighbours and country. You see, what you've threatened if we vote yes, while worrisome, isn’t really very scary. Not when it’s put beside what you're promising to do if I say ‘No Thanks’. The consequences of No means you’ll really have the power to make it happen, and me? Well, I’ll no longer have a finger to point, will I?

Monday, 18 August 2014

An Open Letter To An Unapproachable Prime Minister.

Dear Mr. Cameron, 

I hope that you will take the time to read this, that it finds its way into your hands. You see, I’d like just three questions answered, and if you can answer them to my satisfaction, I’ll really might consider a ‘No’ vote.

My first question concerns the currency bit. 
You see, the media, much of whom I believe you effectively control (well, your lot in Westminster did ‘reserve’ broadcasting after all) are pounding on about this currency thing. Now, allowing broadcasting is reserved to you, they are delivering your message, which makes me curious. 

My question specifically about the currency bit is, well, why should I care?

Now, let me tell you why I'm asking that. You see, for me to care about something, it has to have some sort of value and since about 1930, under Westminster’s stewardship, the pound has steadily devalued to the point where it’s not really worth much at all, not any more. It was $5 to the pound back in 1930. Mind you, the dollar’s devalued too, but the pound’s gone downhill at twice that rate, which isn’t very good testimony to Westminster’s handling of the currency in my pocket. 
With the best predictor of future behaviour being the proven record of the past, you might have to work hard to convince me you won’t keep up that stealth tax called Inflation. We all know inflation is just a way of hiding mismanaged economies. So, to be clear, do you, or do you not want me to vote for ongoing economic mismanagement?

In view of the last three centuries, I’d love to hear your plans for fixing things as we go forward. Don’t worry, I know I can’t hold you to any promise, but I’d like to hear anyway?

That brings me to my second question; it’s about management too. Most specifically, of your responsibilities to those who elect you. Let’s look at the NHS in England for a minute. 
In 2012 you passed a law effectively repealing the 1947 act which Bevin brought forward, guaranteeing universal medical care, free at the point of service. There wasn't a referendum, there was no vote, it wasn't in a manifesto, but your coalition just did it anyway. 
To all intents and purposes, my family and friends in England don’t have the right to be seen by a physician. I know you say they do, but the legal right to receive care has been removed with much of the privatisation that’s going on down there.

I'm fairly certain you know that most folk aren't aware of the changes, mostly because of your stealth privatisation we are now at the point where global companies currently run much of what was England’s NHS. I say “what was”, because although they still look like the NHS staff to the patients, with NHS badges and all, we really know who they work for, and it’s not the NHS. So, this question is a ‘two-parter’ on health care.

The first part is, why did you remove the government’s statutory requirement to provide care?

The second part of the question is, in the event of a "No" vote will Scotland still be in a position to keep her NHS in its current format or will your austerity program force changes there too and allow private health-care companies take over our hospitals and GP surgeries?

Oops! There’s me crossing back to my first question; managing, or mismanaging the money. Thinking about the NHS, perhaps if you had cared (really cared) about Sterling, maybe the money would have been available to maintain England’s public health-care system? But you promised in your manifesto the "NHS Was Safe In Conservative Hands"! Seems we should have tried to force you to keep your word.

Keeping your word, sort of leads into my third question. You see, I know you can lie; your Coalition can even sign pledges to get votes and then blame it on the ‘bad boy’s down at the swings’ while you go off and do the exact opposite, e.g. Student Loans.

Personally, I think that’s because we don't have a written constitution and this is an area where we are virtually alone amongst developed nations. There is nothing guaranteeing anyone any rights, except Parliamentarians, and it seems to me like they’re pretty much always ‘all right’.

Now, you've said we don’t need a constitution down London way. Really? While you quietly privatise, demonise, demoralise and devalue much of what "The British" way of life was. 
Nevertheless, I have to disagree and ask you for a constitution. 

I fully understand I'm getting the offer to have my say in the referendum. Now, if my rights are enshrined and then protected for the future generations then "my say" won’t stop after the referendum. I don't know if you noticed, but we have been promised a written constitution following a "Yes" vote. That means we can (if we wish) petition to have public healthcare as a right or to have our own mail service or even recall bad governments and outlaw lobbying. 
I don't expect we'd get all of our desires, but the American’s (whom you apparently greatly admire) have a fabulous saying you may have heard; "no taxation without representation". They get to vote on almost everything. I would like that, but I know I can’t ever get it under the present Westminster system. Tell me why you won’t enshrine our rights. Unless the reality is that we truly haven’t got any; just what London deigns to allow on any given day. 

Will you promise to clarify and then enshrine our rights?

So, there you go, my three questions. Sadly, I'm expecting if you do read this, you’ll just say ‘No Thanks’ to answering any of them, since nobody can force you, even though you’re officially employed by each and every one of us. In fact, y
ou and your fellow parliamentarians seem to prefer to keep a system where you’re better together; it’s one where London meddling seems to know no borders either. 
I'm just about finished but simply out of devilment, I’ll sneak in a last question. Why is it that when everybody agreed this referendum was for the Scots alone to decide, is one side funded almost entirely by donations appearing from Tory millionaires living outwith Scotland. Oh, sorry about that - sort of slipped my mind a bit; nobody has the power to enforce you to keep your word - or answer our questions, do they?

Now, please, convince me why I should vote for you, because, after all, that’s what a "No" vote is, isn’t it? It’s nothing less than a vote for the current unrepresentative system and the current leader; and that’d be yourself Mr. Cameron - and your likes.


Yours Sincerely,

Hazel Lewry.

Saturday, 9 August 2014

The choreographed debate – Union style.

I've watched and re-watched that first referendum debate, and the more I do, the more I understand. It wasn't really a debate at all. It was a set up; a set up by irrelevant participants (Mr. A. Darling and Better Together audience plants 1 2) designed to hamper rather than enhance knowledge.

I can say that because as it unfolded, I watched the focus slide unerringly to the fiscal aspect, not surprisingly as it’s what many of us need answers on, or so the Union’s organizers’ would have us believe.

In actuality, it was a debate designed from the outset to hammer Alex Salmond and ‘his pet project’. I'm not even certain Bernard Ponsonby was aware of the facts, though it’s hard to see how he’d be ignorant of them. Ponsonby did give Darling, which appeared well anticipated, a few hard shoves but failed to use the debate to move issues and educate. As such, Bernie very much ‘shot his bolt’.

I'm taking that position as it was clear while it unfolded the script like the wrestling results of the ‘70’s, had already been drafted for release by the UK’s media the following day; they just needed to insert quote A into line B.

To any half-witted idiot it became clear before half time that it would be a twofold prong, currency and how ‘Darling won the debate’ after studiously selling ‘their guy’ low. Alistair Darling came across to me more as a renegade guest from the Jerry Springer show, not as a serious debater, although he did raise a few valid questions. He’d obviously been ‘coached’ to interrupt, shout, talk over and negate in any way possible what his ‘opponent’ had been saying. If he wasn't coached into behaving as he did, then in my mind he’s got the decorum and manners of a pig. In civilised debate, both sides get to make their points in allocated time frames, and without interruption.

Now, about those points. My, oh my, about those points.

Firstly, the currency issue. There really wasn't any reason for either of those blokes to be there last night, you see, the white paper told us what ‘Plan A’ and ‘Plan B’ are, and they’re not changing. We’ll use the pound like Ireland and a host of other’s, and we’ll do it unofficially or by preference, officially by treaty. Now, that makes life throw up another few questions, because if we were so clearly laying plan A and plan B on the table, why the screaming heebies the next day, unless the maps had already been drawn and the course charted. Where Ponsonby lost and STV shot its credibility out the window was when they didn’t make this clear.

Now, there’s the 'retirement thing', which was a more minor string on the fiddle of the sonnet to be released the following day. Both sides have agreed that everybody alive today who’s already a UK citizen will continue to have that right to a UK pension. Oddly, Chemical Ali (because he must've used some serious alchemy to arrive at his viewpoint) made it clear that as pensions are supported by those currently working, there’d need to be an agreement, and this would be part of any ‘future negotiation’. In anybody’s book, that’s a nice little addendum to ‘project fear’.

The truth of the Pension’s issue is simple, if you paid in, you get out. Westminster just has to figure out how to keep paying what are close to Europe’s worst pensions to some of Europe’s most deserving and long suffering pensioners. Westminster has to do this because there’s no real way to not do it. Do they enact a law saying you have to live in the rump state, England/Wales/NI? Then what about freedom of movement and all those ex-pats living all over the world. They’ll be coming home, and they’ll be needing cared for. What’s left of the UK neither needs nor wants that burden. What about English in Scotland, do they get a pension? How about one Scot’s parent? How about a Scotswoman married to an Englishman and living in Spain?

The pension issue is smoke and mirrors, no question about it, because any government in Westminster which dumped its pensioners would likely be out on its ear in short order. Or it would if there was such a mechanism. Do I really want to live in country without such a mechanism? We could implement such a right to recall wayward governments and officials in iScotland's new constitution.

Either way, Ponsonby and ITV lost credibility, because at the day’s end, no matter how I've looked at these issues, and what nobody wrote into any of the pre-ordained press releases was this; it all boils down to just three things on both main planks of that debate.

Firstly, we’re being blackmailed in a most horrible, spiteful way, and it’s being done by a bunch of idiots at Westminster who don’t give an actual low flying turd about their own constituents. I have to ask myself, am I in favour of that? Do I support these Bullingdon Bullies.

Sorry guys, it’s your slogan, but it’s ideal here, I’ve got to say ‘no thanks’

Secondly, I'm (still) being told Scotland’s a basket case, an economic basket case that is just too small to manage itself properly. I’ll admit to my jaw almost hitting the coffee table when one audience participant said London had more folk than Scotland, so how could Scotland possibly survive ‘alone’. I smiled incredulously; this bloke get’s to vote? I don’t see Norway, Switzerland or Luxembourg asking Davie lad to let them snuggle under his wing because they’re ‘just too wee’, or Nicky Clegg tabling a motion to devolve all sovereignty to the US, Russia or China? If we’re such a basket case, why fight to keep us? If we can’t afford pensions, the NHS, a banking system that plays fast and loose (we really want that?) and various phallic substitutes, er, sorry, nukes. Something just doesn't ring true here.

Let’s just assume for a second that what’s being conveyed here is a fact, then the only possible conclusion is that for three centuries Scotland’s been so utterly mismanaged, exploited and under-invested by successive London governments, governments who know our vote really means nowt; that they’re happy to continue to pillage and strip rather than invest and encourage.

Sorry guys, again, got to say ‘no thanks’

The third possibility, the one I'm betting on is that we've just been lied to all along. You see, I’ve done my research, unlike ‘Mr. too small’, that being the case, again, I’ve got to say again, ‘no thanks’.

Bernie, and our so trustworthy media, could easily have pointed out that what we really had the other night was a choice. We have a choice to go our own way, or opt for the fearmongering, asset stripping liars.

We do have a choice. We have a choice to watch the next debate, to see where Chemical Ali is allowed to work his alchemical skills of wonder; which one or two areas will be the highlight of his interruptions and shouty, ill mannered focus, then we can watch the media reaction the next day, and smile.

After September 18th we can decide we’ll never have to watch the like again, because we know with absolute certainty that the ones from the Bullingdon Club in London, those mired in corruption and scandal, they’re the only ones until September 18th who are worth being in the debating chair, because they’re the only ones with the power to answer our questions, like the ones for the EU and NATO, and they’re the only ones who can clarify this debate.

Except, we already know they won’t do that. They won’t give me what I need, yet they still want me to endorse them, they want me to say ‘no thanks’.

Fine, then I will, on September 18th I’ll say ‘no thanks’; no thanks to the lies, the misinformation, the half truths, the innuendoes and scare tactics, and I’ll watch us walk away from this disreputable shambles called Westminster.

Yes, it might be to an uncertain future, but it’s a future filled with potential and possibility, and I dream of being a part of it. If we don’t grasp the thistle, we know we’ll get stung for more lies, more official secrets, more obfuscation, more stripped rights and we’ll lose more of our cherished values.

Yes. Give me that uncertainty, because it really can’t be worse that what London’s offering, and in less than a generation, if we decide, it can be so, so much more.

You know what? I trust my fellow Scots to make the right decisions, now, and as we walk forward. September 19th will tell us all if we’re a confident nation.


1: Craig Murray's Blog concerning the debate
2: STV Rigging Audiences?

A reply to the celebs letter from Steven McBrien of Glasgow.

This is so well written and says everything that any one of us would have wished to have said to these people, given the opportunity. So much so, in fact, that I just had to re-blog it. My thanks to Steven McBrien for this great piece of writing:


Dear William Dalrymple, Eddie Izzard, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sir Mick Jagger, Jenny Agutter, Sir Ben Ainslie, Kriss Akabusi, Roger Allam, Kirstie Allsop, Alexander Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Steve Backley, Baroness Joan Bakewell, Frances Barber, Andy Barrow, John Barrowman, Mike Batt, Glen Baxter, David Aaronovitch, Helena Bonham-Carter, Stanley Baxter, Martin Bayfield, Mary Beard, Sarah Beeny, Anthony Beevor, Angelica Bell,Dickie Bird, Cilla Black, Graeme Black, Roger Black, Malorie Blackman, Ranjit Bolt, Alain de Botton, William Boyd, Tracey Brabin, Lord Melvyn Bragg, Jo Brand, Gyles Brandreth, Rob Brydon, Louisa Buck, Simon Callow, Will Carling, Paul Cartledge, Guy Chambers, Nick Cohen, Michelle Collins, Colonel Tim Collins, Olivia Colman, Charlie Condou, Susannah Constantine, Steve Coogan, Dominic Cooper, Ronnie Corbett, Simon Cowell, Jason Cowley, Sara Cox, Amanda Craig, Steve Cram, Richard Curtis, Tom Daley, Richard Dawkins, Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Deller, Lord Michael Dobbs, Jimmy Doherty, Michael Douglas, Simon Easterby, Gareth Edwards, Jonathan Edwards, Tracey Emin, Sebastian Faulks, Bryan Ferry, Ranulph Fiennes, Ben Fogle, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Amanda Foreman, Neil Fox, Emma Freud, Bernard Gallacher, Kirsty Gallacher, George Galloway, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bamber Gascoigne, David Gilmour, Harvey Goldsmith, David Goodhart, Lachlan Goudie, David Gower, AC Grayling, Will Greenwood, Tamsin Greig, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Lord Charles Guthrie, Haydn Gwynne, Maggi Hambling, Mehdi Hasan, Sir Max Hastings, Peter Hennessy, James Holland, Tom Holland, Tom Hollander, Gloria Hunniford, Conn Iggledun, John Illsley, Brendan Ingle, Betty Jackson, Sir Mike Jackson, Howard Jacobson, Baroness PD James, Griff Rhys Jones, Terry Jones, Christopher Kane, Sir Anish Kapoor, Ross Kemp, Paul Kenny, Jemima Khan, India Knight, Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Tory Lawrence, Kathy Lette, Rod Liddle, Louise Linton, John Lloyd (the journalist), John Lloyd ( the producer), Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gabby Logan, Kenny Logan, Sarah Lucas, Dame Vera Lynn, James May, Margaret MacMillan, Stephen Mangan, Davina McCall, Sir Ian McGeechan, Heather McGregor, Andy McNab, John Michie, David Mitchell, Lord John Monks, Lewis Moody, Michael Morpurgo, Bill Morris, David Morrissey, Philip Mould, Al Murray, Neil Stuke, Sir Paul Nurse, Andy Nyman, Peter Oborne, Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips, Andy Puddicombe, Lord David Puttnam, Anita Rani, Esther Rantzen, Sir Steve Redgrave, Derek Redmond, Pete Reed, Lord Martin Rees, Peter Reid, Baroness Ruth Rendell, Sir Cliff Richard, Hugo Rifkind, Sir Tony Robinson, David Rowntree, Ian Rush, Greg Rutherford, CJ Sansom, June Sarpong, Simon Schama, John Sessions, Sandie Shaw, Helen Skelton, Sir Tim Smit, Dan Snow, Peter Snow, Phil Spencer, David Starkey, Lord Jock Stirrup, Neil Stuke, Sting, Tallia Storm, David Suchet, Alan Sugar, Graeme Swann, Stella Tennant, Daley Thompson, Alan Titchmarsh, James Timpson, Kevin Toolis, Lynne Truss, Gavin Turk, Roger Uttley, David Walliams, Zoë Wanamaker, Robert Webb, Richard Wentworth, Sir Alan West, Dominic West and Kevin Whateley,

I would like to express my hearty and sincere thanks to you all for your stated concern that myself and my countrymen remain in the United Kingdom. I was just heading back from my job (the job where I earn under eight quid an hour for working with people with learning disabilities) and passing the local food bank when I heard the news, namely, that you were so concerned that we might leave the UK that you had all deigned to write your names on a piece of paper.

I was delighted to hear this news, so transported, in fact, that I temporarily forgot about the nuclear stockpile that's a mere 25 miles away from my front door, and so giddy with the receipt of this beneficence that I almost forgot that I could spend my remaining English tenners up here as no-one up here has any kind of problem with accepting English money. I write to inform you all that the fact that a bunch of millionaires and multi-millionaires who have, on the whole, exhibited total disinterest, and, in some cases (Mr Curtis, Mr Starkey) outright contempt for my country, its denizens and its history were so thoughtful as to sign a piece of paper has forced me to totally review my lifelong pro-independence stance.

I realise and understand completely that you all probably know more about the situation in Scotland than the people of Scotland do; after all, you're all really famous, and we're none too bright up here, you know, apart from inventing television, the refrigerator, canals, bicycles, chloroform, fingerprinting, animal cloning, fax machines, microwaves and magnetrons, adhesive postage stamps, tubular steel, pneumatic tyres, radar, propellers, ATM machines and PIN codes, the telephone, the condensing steam engine, tarmac, penning such unremarkable gewgaws as Peter Pan, Sherlock Holmes and Jekyll and Hyde, discovering penicillin, founding the US Navy, establishing Universal Standard Time, adumbrating the Rankine Thermodynamic Cycle, establishing the foundation of modern economics thanks to Adam Smith, abetting in the foundation of sociology as a modern science thanks to Adam Ferguson, discovering the nearest star to our sun, Proxima Centauri, discovering and linking the Noble Gases, establishing the Kelvin unit of temperature, inventing MRI machines, discovering the vaccine for typhoid, helping to establish general anaesthetic in medical procedure, inventing the electric clock in 1840 and the flush-toilet in 1775, devising the foundations of the Bank of England and the Bank of France, taking the world's first ever colour photograph, and various other trifles. We really do need to be reminded that these are mere dilettante efforts; governing ourselves is an entirely different matter. As the good folks at Better Together have told us on numerous occasions, we, alone among the nations of the planet Earth, and despite abundant-to-the-point-of-overwhelming evidence to the contrary, will not be capable of this.

On that note, I should like to take a few lines to address the Better Together campaign now, as you have all, through your signing of this hallowed document, tacitly aligned your good selves with the efforts of that noble organisation. Despite what you may have heard, Better Together have, throughout the last few years, been a shining example of truth-telling and reassurance. Those accusations, slung by those vicious people who state facts, that their campaign has been nothing more than a random farrago of shrill, terror-inducing and panic-peddling doomsday prophecies, saturated throughout with slander, half-truths, quarter-truths, outright lies and an irrelevant hate-obsession with one man, are, as I now see, totally exaggerated. They were right all along. The debate between Alistair Darling and Alex Salmond (yes, that debate, the debate that was described by pundits as one of the most important debates in modern political history, but which you probably didn't even see, because it wasn't televised in England, thanks to the equally unbiased British media) showed us all that modern UK politics is in rude health, with three main parties who should be occupying totally different strata of the political spectrum uniting as one to remind us that Alex Salmond is nothing less than the devil in pudgy form and that we are inherently incapable of governing ourselves, before, in a coup de grace, offering to give us as a nation more powers if we as a nation refuse more powers. They are simply a beacon of logic and compassion. I should also like to take this opportunity to thank the BBC, who unthinkingly took time out from their busy schedule of covering up the sundry paedophiles and abusers of vulnerable adults who were protected and celebrated by them to alternately ignore us completely/refuse to broadcast facts/remind us up here that we don't matter.

As for having some of the finest exports on Earth, we are fully cognisant that this will not help. And the oil? We'll just follow Westminster's lead and shut up about the oil, and the possibility of joining the rest of the world in actually setting up an oil fund if we got independence, as we don't want to annoy anyone. Besides it doesn't matter: we don't want independence anyway, because we can't do it.

We should also be reminded that a constitution that is increasingly alone among the nations of the civilised world in never having been drawn up or cohesively codified (with the result that if I were a practicing rather than a lapsed Catholic, I could not be Prime Minister, and if I were to go out walking to an archery contest in York clutching a bow and arrow, it would be perfectly legal to kill me) is the way to go in terms of governance, that Martin Luther King and the rest of them were just kidding about all women and men being equal and deserving an equal chance, when in fact, the Royal Family is inherently better than the rest of us because their ancestors chopped people up really effectively. That must be why so many of you have taken knighthoods, damehoods, lordships and peerages. Yes, that explains it. You are all such enlightened and selfless individuals, there is clearly nothing you wouldn't sacrifice to defend your Kingdom; to the extent that, in some cases, such as that of Sir Tony Robinson, you have even been willing to sacrifice your own principles to defend it.

The financial system of the United Kingdom that you defend so valiantly, you know, that one were the banks and corporations do whatever they want and pay their executives outrageous salaries only to be bailed out by the taxpayer when the inevitable bust comes along, the one that enriches the obscenely rich while enslaving the vast majority of the population, is the envy of the world. This, in turn, must account for the shocking appearance, in one or two cases, of signatories of this document who are not in fact millionaires, living in ivory towers and totally divorced from the reality that most people have to live. Once again, I commend you all for making me see sense.

I am certain that the Prime Minister (you know, the millionaire who went to Eton along with half of the previous cabinet; that man whom myself and my entire country didn't vote for, as we so ignorantly revile both his party and his policies) will salute you all for your efforts. You've certainly persuaded me. I'll vote for the UK, with its pro-Israel stance, and totally ignore the suffering of the people in Gaza, too. It's for the best, really. As for foreign affairs, well, it's demonstrably obvious that the best way to conduct them is with a horde of nukes at your back, and that the surest way to preserve world peace is with an array of weapons that could only ever be deployed militarily in some kind of nightmarish endgame scenario, but which nevertheless cost billions a year to maintain and store, even while public service budgets are ruthlessly slashed. Why didn't I see this before? I genuinely feel like the writer of Amazing Grace.

I'd like, finally, to take this opportunity to highlight, and indeed, laud, certain signatories of this document who I feel have made an undeniable contribution to twenty-first century art, science and high culture, namely Messrs Armstrong, Barrowman, Bragg, Brydon, Ms Cox, Messrs Cowell, Dawkins, Galloway, Izzard, Ms McCall, Messrs Mitchell, Richard, Robinson, Miss Sarpong, Messrs Starkey, Sting, Sugar, Titchmarsh, Walliams and Webb. You are all deeply talented and necessary individuals, and I thank you all from the bottom of my bowels for descending temporarily from on-high to appeal to scum like me to see sense and vote No.

Thank you all for affording me this opportunity to tell you all how wonderfully wonderful I think you are,

Yours obsequiously,

McB

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

The Big Currency Bash.

Well, it's been hot news since Gideon laid his cards flatly and squarely on the table. The Scots and their Nation are second-class citizens of Planet Earth when it comes to currency sharing. And while I don't normally re-blog items, I saw this post pertaining to the stramash on "who can do what with a pound" while on Facebook today, and thought it was worth the reposting. 

Thanks to Mairie NicIllemhoire and Ken Potter for all the information:

"I'm not in favour of the Euro as our currency post-indy, but nonetheless, I found it very interesting to discover that there are several non-EU members who use the Euro as their currency, namely: Andorra, Kosovo, Monaco, Montenegro, San Marino, and Vatican City.

With regards to sterling, the current list of official users (plus secondary currencies, in brackets) are:

United Kingdom,
British Antarctic Territory,
Falkland Islands (alongside Falkland Islands pound),
Gibraltar (alongside Gibraltar pound),
Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha (Tristan da Cunha; alongside Saint Helena pound in Saint Helena and Ascension),
South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands (alongside Falkland Islands pound),
British Indian Ocean Territory (de jure, US Dollar used de facto),
Guernsey (local issue: Guernsey pound),
Isle of Man (local issue: Manx pound),
Jersey (local issue: Jersey pound).

Apart from these OFFICIAL users of the pound sterling, there are the following places using sterling unofficially:
Uganda,
Zimbabwe,
Zambia,
Sierra Leone,
Tanzania,
Rwanda,
Malawi,
Botswana,
plus the Pakistani city of Mirpur in Kashmir.

Historically.
After becoming independent, Ireland continued to use the Saorstát pound (Irish Punt), which remained pegged with sterling until she joined the European Monetary System in 1978, whilst the UK remained out. Other areas of the, now defunct, Empire have also used sterling in the past - the gold sovereign was legal tender in Canada despite the use of the Canadian dollar.

Several colonies and dominions adopted the pound as their own currency. These included Australia, Barbados, British West Africa, Cyprus, Fiji, the Irish Free State, Jamaica, New Zealand, South Africa and Southern Rhodesia. Some of these retained parity with sterling throughout their existence (e.g. the South African pound), whilst others deviated from parity after the end of the gold standard (e.g. the Australian pound).

At this point, I'm thinking that someone needs to put this to Better Together, and ask 2 salient questions: 


1) Just exactly WHAT makes Scotland different from any and all of these other places?
 
2) Name one place that has ever been refused the use of sterling. Just one!"


It will be interesting to hear if they've got an answer to either of those questions. 

As we approach the referendum, the output of scaremongering dross from the Unionist side is building to a torrent . But just how much more will the people in Scotland take and how much of it is now being seen for what it truly is - utter nonsense? 
I get the feeling that Westminster forgets even the humble Scot has access to the internet where any amount of information is available and these pronouncements can be checked and double-checked and seen for the misinformation they are.

Meanwhile, on the rest of the planet, the thought of an independent Scotland with a Scottish Pound appears to be perfectly acceptable. For instance, this little article - Hong Kong Markets favour a Scottish Pound - published last year on April 28th shows the money markets of the East giving a more favourable rate to the Scottish Pound than Sterling. It looks as if foreign markets think a Scottish Pound would be a safer bet than rUK Pound. 

I shall await the next development, scare story, bullsh*t with baited breath. I'm sure, just like buses, several will turn up at the same time. 

Friday, 29 November 2013

Pulling The Wool - No Credit For Tweed.

Westminster and the Institute for Financial Studies (IFS) say there is, and will continue to be, a financial black hole in Scotland’s budget. They persist in telling us we are Too Poor, our economy is a basket case, and following independence we’d be poorer than a Developing Nation on its uppers, with a financial deficit in the billions. However, the IFS has apparently taken their data from those figures which are available from Westminster; figures that are created under the auspices of London’s government and London’s rules, as such they do not always, nor indeed by all appearances ever reflect the reality of Scotland’s financial standing because of certain “quirks” on how exports etc are recorded. Some of these issues I dealt with here Hidden Wealth.

Essentially, exports are credited to the UK nation that controls the port of departure. That’s right, it’s not about where they’re made, it is from where they are shipped.

The information in the above blog resulted in me being asked on Facebook what this meant for the iconic Harris Tweed Industry. It seemed appropriate to dig a bit.

My first stop was UK Registry of Companies to discover where much of the Harris Tweed industry was registered. This would tell us whether their profits and taxes could be attributed to Scottish income. The results were interesting and varied. Many of the smaller companies associated with the Harris Tweed Industry are indeed registered in Lewis, but the main mills where by far the majority of the textiles are produced brought a mixed bag of results.

I really enjoyed this trip into an iconic Scottish industry, and I learned much, such as the Harris Tweed Authority (HTA) was set up by Act of Parliament in 1993 to help protect and promote the industry, while maintaining standards within it. I was quite surprised to discover there are only three main mills within the industry, all based in the Outer Hebrides.

Shawbost is the largest mill and main producer of tweed. It is owned by Harris Tweed Hebrides Ltd and is registered in the Isle of Lewis. Interestingly, members of their board include one Ian Roper Taylor, of Vitol fame and a certain Brian Wilson, former UK Labour politician. Harris Tweed Hebrides board of directors.

The next and oldest operating mill (since 1909) belongs to the intriguingly named Harris Tweed Scotland Ltd. I say intriguingly from the viewpoint that it is actually registered as a company at Haincliffe Road, Ingrow, Keighly, West Yorkshire, BD21 5BU; Harris Tweed Scotland LTD. The company is owned by Mr Brian Haggas following a buy-out in 2006. It primarily produces tweed to be made into jackets, presumably in garment factories in the North East of England. These are then exported all over the world including sending an apparently small proportion of its finished garments back to the Islands to be sold there.

The third and smallest mill in Lewis involved in tweed production is the Carloway Mill. It’s an independent mill; however, I was unable to find any trace of registration on either of the Companies House or Company Check websites. Perhaps someone can enlighten me as to why this is so. In March of this year, they entered a joint venture with the large Chinese textile company Shandong Ruyi Technological Group Ltd. Companies not registered under their own names are often held by overseas investors through shell corporations. I’m not alleging this is the case here, but would welcome information to the contrary.

There is also a network of independent weavers within the industry who can work as contractors for any of the mills or sell their cloth freelance.

While the HTA would like you to think that the Hebrides are the centre of the exporting world for tweeds, as you will be misled by this HTA World Presence web-page, this is not strictly accurate. Indeed, all the fabric is created, dyed and woven there, but the vast majority of the product, and research indicates a substantial percentage of it, leaves the Islands by road haulage by Woody's Express Parcels and ferry for a depot in Inverness.

From Inverness I am reliably informed other haulage companies, namely DHL, UPS and FED EX take the fabric on the next step of the journey, to destinations such as East Midlands Airport (DHL, UPS), Newcastle Airport (FED EX) and all ports south. Very little of this Scottish iconic fabric actually leaves via a Scottish airport or dock. From this, I can only conclude that it doesn’t count in favour of Scottish exports and adds tonnage and financial gain to English exports, as bales of Harris Tweed exit via English ports.

What we have here is an iconic Scot’s product which has the appearance of being virtually deleted from the Scottish balance of payments ledger, while simultaneously accruing to England’s. To reiterate, as per UK export law, it is the port of exit that counts when it comes to registering overseas shipping, not the country of manufacture.

Under the weirdest of all situations one could actually have the finished garments, marked ‘Harris Tweed’ counted as a Scottish import, and worsening our balance of payments. This is because almost no ‘Harris Tweed’ garments are now manufactured in Scotland, so any sold here effectively have to be re-imported from the country of manufacture.

That you can play with the base fundamentals of an economy in such a fashion is very simple indeed. Especially when almost everyone relies upon the official figures from Westminster to obtain a consensus of agreement that Scotland might just be an economic basket case with a horrible balance of payments deficit, when the reverse may well indeed prove to be a much more accurate statement. The only real way to prove Scotland’s net worth would be to do as the USA apparently does with its states, and count the country of origin or state of origin of goods, but that might not be in vested interests with a referendum in the offing.

This is obviously something that happens with startling consistency where Scotland’s exports are concerned. It is agreed by those who have actually researched the figures that Scotland is nominally responsible for somewhere around 9% of UK GDP, this does not include oil which is treated separately, yet based upon air freight, with a similar number being expected across the board, Scotland is credited only for about 2% of UK export, by weight. Air Freight tonnage. The fact that the system is set up in such a way that practically all of Scotland’s manufacturing ends up exiting the British Isles not via a local airport or freight terminal, but one which, in Stornoway’s case, may be almost 700 miles away (Stornoway-London) is both detrimental to our economy and destructive to our environment. It is also a bit of an eye-opener when you discover Kent International Airport (where?) moved more tonnage in air freight (12,744 tonnes) than Edinburgh (8,933 tonnes) in the first half of 2013. In fact Manchester Airport shifted over twice (45,831) the cargo that the whole of Scotland moved (22,731).

The reality of this situation is that if Scotland produced exports of 9 billion pounds per year, then she would be being credited for 2 billion pounds per year, while the other 7 billion pounds per year will accrue to Westminster’s ledger, and no, they’re not hard numbers, they’re example figures.

This is a dreadful under-use of Scotland’s facilities and resources from all sorts of angles, including Green Issues, but that’s another blog for another time. Far more could and should be moved through these airports from an economical point of view. Local economies and employment would benefit enormously from this.

The important aspect I got from all of this is from London’s perspective, when you spread this “port of exit” requirement across all of Scotland’s exporting industries, whether it’s tweed, electronics or shortbread, they have created a wonderful statistical tool that ‘anyone’ can use to perpetuate the ‘too poor” case for the Scots’ economy and produce ‘believable’ statistical data that might encourage a ‘NO’ vote when perpetuated by the MSM in Scotland without proper back up research.